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Tip of the day: Hunting birds in -30 conditions. See first post.

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  • Tip of the day: Hunting birds in -30 conditions. See first post.

    Tip of the day: Hunting birds in -30 conditions. See first post.

  • #2
    I'm on my way home from hunting pheasants for a month in Montana. Weather has really gone in the toilet the last three days. No improvement in near future so I'm heading out. Hunted for about an hour at sunset this afternoon in minus thirty to forty wind chill and calf to knee deep powder snow. Should have shot a rooster but trigger finger froze up. So here's the tips: 1) don't hunt in this kind of weather unless you have to; 2) don't hunt alone in this kind of weather ... unless you're me; 3) hunt the sheltered stuff with birds so that wind is at your back and hands in front of you (out of wind), otherwise it's hopeless (as confirmed by today's blunder). The birds will smell you but when it's that cold and snowy they won't run and they won't fly unless pushed up. Take the time to circle around and get upwind.

    Of course one must have the right clothing for this kind of hunting but I think we have gone through that list before. I can't stand hunting with anything on my shooting hand but when it's this cold I really don't have a choice. The gun will burn a bare hand/finger in seconds. If the dogs get birdy I try to strip the glove/mitt and shove my hand in my pants pocket while my right forearm pins the stock against my side. The well-mitted left hand holds the fore end. The bird has to be close or I can't get my hand out and shot off safely. So I keep the dogs very close. It's all about voice commands now as whistle gets frozen up immediately. Can be a challenge because the dogs are cold and want to keep moving.

    The biggest problem now is that the birds are bunching up. And if one bird gets up they are all gone. Chasing them up again after they're busted up usually works well ... if I don't get frozen first. It's all about timing out there right now. Know where they'll be and get after it as quickly as possible. And keep that wind behind you! It goes without saying that one must keep moving constantly in these conditions. If you're not in condition for that then you better stay home.

    I need three birds to fill my possession limit. We'll see how long it takes tomorrow. Only the labs will be hunting. Poor little Britt's belly is bald from hunting the brush for the last month. She had a rough time this afternoon. I won't put her through that again. Maybe she'll hunt if there's less snow here. Hard to tell at night. Pearl seems to be doing fine. Bounding through the drifts like a pup. She had a lot of fun. This semi-dive of a motel has radiant heat below the ceramic flooring. The dogs are loving that tonight! Won't even lay on their beds. I like the folks that run this place, the rate is okay, they don't mind my dogs, and most importantly, they have good seals around the doors and windows. Gad, that is rare even in the expensive motels out here! Go figure.

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    • #3
      OH- have you ever used or thought of using a vest on the dogs to help protect their chest and bellies from all the sticks, briars, and other stuff they run through? not to mention to help keep them warmer in the cold?

      Good post. Glad your trip is going well.

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      • #4
        The labs don't have a problem. I can't get a vest small enough for the Britt. She's only 28 lbs. Had a medium for her last year (for the benefit of the camo while goose hunting - she's bright white and black) but it came off in the brush when we were jump shooting a wooded slough and never have found it. She was chasing a grouse. Medium seems to be as small as I have been able to find in stock. I'm going to definitely look harder for one this year!

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        • #5
          Those vests are a great asset for your dog. I hunt in that cold temp all the time.....and then wake up, and have to go to the BR. And dogs can get hypothermia in that cold temp, and become dehydrated. Some think that only happens in the warm weather.

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          • #6
            Good post. Maybe you need to become F&S new gun dog blogger! I completely understand what you are talking about hunting with the wind at your back. But growing up hunting in the south we were taught to hunt quail into the wind because it helps the dogs.
            I bought a Browning vest for my GSP. A medium fits him perfect. I know they had smalls when I ordered but a small may still be a litle big for a 28 pound dog.
            I'm leaving the day after Christmas going to South Dakota(only way I could get the time off from work). I'll take all of the free advice I can get.

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            • #7
              You may want to consider that a warm dog will melt calf-high snow, and a wet dog in -40 wind chill? Probably not a good idea.

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              • #8
                The Britt had problems with ice in between her pads but otherwise no ice on any of them. Too cold for the snow to melt as they are moving through it. It just falls of them. Even their faces stayed ice free. That's more of a problem in temps around freezing.

                Joe, you'll be pushing it with GSP in January. Even a vest won't help her if the temps drop below zero. Make sure you have good footwear.

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                • #9
                  And a coat with a hood on it. Hunting with a hood is no fun but you gotta do what ya gotta do. A cap with bill that fits well will help keep the hood out of your face.

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                  • #10
                    Got ear protection that fits over, and under the bill of a cap, around the hat, and pulls over your ears. Then a turtle neck collar sweater, and much better vision. And yes, hunt into the wind if you hunt with dogs whenever you can. To cold that way?..bar conditions. "I'll have a hot buttered rum please."

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                    • #11
                      Easy on the turtleneck. You'll get too steamed up if there's not enough ventilation. I ditched the crappy jacket for my 4-in-1 Cabelas coat today. The stupid bomber style seals everything too much and I got sweaty. Not good! Switched to polar fleece jacket under the outer Cabela's coat and did fine.

                      Got my last three roosters this afternoon and am on my way home. It was only minus twenty with almost no wind so fairly tolerable especially in the sunlight. I shot the last two roosters after I fell through the ice ... three times. Twice with right leg and once with right leg. Up to the thigh. Pretty hairy getting to dry land. I'll post a tip on what went wrong.

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                      • #12
                        Hunting in -30 Tip of the Year: Don't....

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                        • #13
                          And those are the reasons my mid west pheasant quest always occurs in late October, sometimes weather is cold, but not too often.
                          AlJoe: I sho ain't goin' to the Dakotas after Christmas, but good luck!!!

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                          • #14
                            Wn mtnhunter...Commonsense can be very hard to accept on these threads. I can't hunt with full gloves on, or fish. I use fingerless...a sleeve that ends at the middle joints, and just a thumb hole in them. I got out of the car to talk to another hunter near the end of our pheasant season that had a Puddelpointer like my brother owns. They are a DNA close relative of the Wirehaired Pointer. Anyway, the guy was all bundled up with a heavy pair of full gloves. I mentioned his gloves, and he says, "I paid quite a bit for them, they are electric, but well worth it." I got back in my warm car, and headed home..too cold. And it was in the teens, but with a wind blowing.

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                            • #15
                              RES: See the photo in my collection of Pearl with bandage. Rattler bit her in late October. That was a lot more trouble than a bit of cold wind!

                              It was fierce out there that last day but I had the whole refuge to myself. And it was BEAUTIFUL. A bright cloudless day with fresh powder snow on everything. Some drifts in the grass were up to my crotch but not packed and easy to push through. The dogs had a great time. Even the pup. Watched about seventy birds flying from one spot ten minutes out of the vehicle and I just worked them where they landed. Only took a couple of hours. It was very cold but a wonderful memorable afternoon. Wish I could have taken a photo for you guys. By the time I got back to the vehicle the camera was so cold it wouldn't open up.

                              My only regret is that I had to leave. I would do it all over again, even if it meant getting wet. But THAT is NOT going to happen again!

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